On reading the Addresses to the German Nation - with its ideals of the purity of the 'volk', the division of mankind into superior and inferior races, the realisation of a historic destiny, the ego-imperialism of will, 'I believe because I will', etc - it is impossible not to recognise a fundamental caesura of historical understanding which, while exhilarating, is fundamentally pernicious. The 'Gothic Image' of darkly brooding emotion and unrestrained monstrous will, was from the outset an irrational quest based on a flawed understanding of human nature: a nightmare which Hitler turned to reality.
The challenge today is not to excuse this, nor 'to build our cities on the slopes of Vesuvius' (Nietzsche), but to build communities of compassion and reasoned restraint out of the rubble of Romanticism.
Canons Regular of Premontre
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